Friday, 26 September 2008

Raining On The Parade

As I write we are experiencing a tropical deluge with accompanying gunshots of thunder and lightening flashes.

Nothing too unusual about this given that we are in the Tropics and the rain comes as welcome relief after a week of high humidity and brain-numbing heat.

The big difference is that today is the first time the Formula One drivers get in their cars to try out Singapore's new road circuit ahead of Sunday's grand prix.

The F1 Night race is not resonating with most Singapore's despite the media's attempt to talk up the event. I have yet to find anyone who is going to see the race in person. Some politely say they think they might watch it on TV but I actually doubt that many will.

Most comment has been about the inconvenience to public transport and the lack of custom in the large shopping malls due to road closures.

Welcome to the world of street circuit racing! These events are by their very nature disruptive.

I recall promoters in Auckland, New Zealand desperately trying to convince the local City Council of the economic benefits to that city when in reality, it would have seen the main arterial route into the city from the North Shore completely cut. Fortunately the race did not go ahead.

Here in Singapore millions have been spent of lighting and other infrastructure for the world's first F1 night race. I hope they see a return on their reported $105 million investment. When public statements in the media a week before the event switch to talking about 'intangible benefits' then one gets the sense there is a growing realisation that the receipts are not going to match the outlay?

I am not against motor sport, far from it - I even belonged to a car club at one stage in my life. I have however worked in, and been associated with, international events so I recognise hype over substance when I see it.

F1 is no different in many respects from yachting's America's Cup. It is a rich man's sport projected to the masses. Along the way it sells motoring product, but to the rich list followers it is just another event on the annual social calendar. It also transpires of course that these super rich moguls rarely pay to attend the races as they are feted by corporations and the finance sector who cover all expenses to get them track side.

Commentators should therefore not be surprised that the people in the Heartland are tuning their TV's to watch English soccer in preference to motor racing. This event has little relevance to their daily lives and the cost of tickets mean that they are unlikely to attend in person.

Some will even be leaving Singapore to escape from the event if reports in the local papers can be believed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thought I am the odd one out but your post suggests that I am not. Like you have said, I might watch it on the TV, yawn...